Heseltine moves to third snub in monopoly game

BY NIGEL COPE

AND MARY FAGAN

Some of Britain's best-known games such as Monopoly, Cluedo and Subutteo, were at the centre of a regulatory row last night as Michael Heseltine, President of the board of Trade, appeared to deliver a final snub to Sir Bryan Carsberg, the out-going director-general of the Office of Fair Trading, who steps down in May.

At issue is the £50m bid by Hasbro, the US toy giant, to buy Waddingtons Games, the Yorkshire-based toys and games group. Sir Bryan had recommended that the bid be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Yesterday Mr Heseltine overruled him.

The DTI said: "In making his decision, Mr Heseltine took into account the director-general of Fair Trading's recommendation that the acquisition should be referred to the MMC. In departing from the director-general's recommendation, Mr Heseltine considered on balance that the competition issues raised by the merger were not sufficient to justify a reference."

It is the third time in Sir Bryan's two-year tenure at the OFT that he has found his suggestions overruled by the DTI.

In February 1993 Mr Heseltine delivered two snubs in the same month. One involved the acquisition by GEC of Phillips Infra Red Defence Components. Mr Heseltine also waved through the ultimately unsuccessful attempt by leisure group Airtours to take over its rival, Owners Abroad.

The Government has yet to announce a successor to Sir Bryan, who is leaving to head the International Accounting Standards Committee.

Some observers suggest that the OFT post is regarded as not allowing sufficient powers.

Last week Sir Bryan called for a single competition authority to replace the UK's tripartite structure of the OFT, the Monopolies Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Speaking before the Commons Trade and Industry select committee, Sir Bryan said the authority he envisaged would have the power to investigate cases, grant or refuse clearances or exemptions, and impose fines or other remedies. Companies would be able to appeal against any decision through the courts.

Sir Bryan also said that he saw no reason for ministers to become involved in all the decisions on implementation of MMC reports, as happens in the UK at present, "because most of the issues are not political".

He made clear his frustration at lack of government action not to implement changes in UK competition law. The Government has since 1989 been promising to toughen legislation on anti-restrictive practices. It has also said it will increase the OFT director-general's powers of investigation, but so far nothing concrete has been done.

The deal to buy Waddingtons Games adds Monopoly, Cluedo and Dingbats to Hasbro's porfolio of toys, which includes Action Man, Sindy and My Little Pony. Hasbro is already the world's largest toy company with sales in excess of $3.5bn.

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker